Bygone Bungo

A Strathbungo History, & More

Month: December 2016

Neale Thomson, Camphill House & the Crossmyloof Bakery

Neale Thomson

Neale Thomson

The Thomson family were successful in the cotton industry. Robert Thomson (1771-1831) was a partner with his father (also Robert, 1742-1820) in Robert Thomson & Sons, whose Adelphi Cotton Works in Hutchesontown was said to have been the first in Glasgow to manufacture cotton goods. He purchased land at Camphill in 1778, and had Camphill House built shortly thereafter. The architect is thought to be David Hamilton (1768-1843), who built the similar Aitkenhead House (in Kings Park) in 1806.

Neale Thomson was born at Camphill in 1807. The family business fell into his hands when his father Robert died in 1831, followed shortly thereafter by Neale’s brothers, two in 1833 and the third in 1843.

He became known for the care of his workforce, introducing shorter hours before the law on this was passed. He also encouraged workers to open savings accounts, including matching their contributions with his own, and established a bakery in Crossmyloof for his workers, where good quality bread could be bought far more cheaply than was normally the case. This proved such a success that shops soon opened, with large crowds gathering to meet the delivery vans, and the experiment in philanthropy grew into a flourishing business.

In 1855 he commissioned Alexander Greek Thomson to build terraced housing for his workforce in Baker Street. There were apparently two terraces originally, but by 1964 only one remained, and this appears to have been demolished in the 1970s. In this photo c 1971 the cottages with their overhanging eaves are on the right, and Langside Halls is visible at the end of the road. There are further photos on The Virtual Mitchell website from 1964.

Baker Street, Crossmyloof

Baker Street, Crossmyloof

Hugh MacDonald was given a tour of the bakery and described it in detail in his Rambles Round Glasgow, calling it possibly the largest bakery in the Queen’s Dominion.

In 1852 Thomson acquired Langside House, a large elegant mansion on the highest point in Langside, bulit by Robert Adam in 1777. He was responsible for the development of the villas around Mansionhouse Road. Thomson acquired the land of Pathhead Farm adjacent to Camphill in 1854, and in 1857 sold it to the city for the construction of what became known as Queen’s Park He did so at a lower price than he had paid, despite the land’s increasing value, for the benefit of his fellow citizens. He died at Camphill, after a long illness, on 26 June 1857.

His biography appears in MacLehose’s biography of 100 Great Glaswegian men, including an account of his competitors’ efforts to undermine his business. They repeatedly accused him of selling underweight bread, which he defending vigorously in letters to both the Glasgow Herald and Courier.

Camphill House by Duncan Brown

Camphill House by Duncan Brown

Camphill House and its grounds were added to Glasgow Corporation’s Queen’s Park in 1894. The building was converted into a museum in 1895-1896 and contained displays of costume and relics relating to the Battle of Langside, which was fought nearby in 1568. The museum closed in the 1980s and the building was converted into flats.

Langside House

Langside House


Langside House survived until the 1980s, but has now been replaced by the modern housing of Langside Gardens.

The bakery continued in operation until 1880, and some of the buildings still survive. The Glad Cafe now sits on part of the site, and organised their Doors Open Day around the history of Neale Thomson in 2016. They sell a “Crossmyloaf” in his honour.

More information on Crossmyloof and Langside can be found in the Council’s Langside Heritage Trail leaflet.

H C Niven Motor Engineers

The Salisbury Restaurant & Bar at 72 Nithsdale Road was not always a place for food and drink, and in its previous dining incarnation as Cookie, still retained the original signage, H C Niven & Co, est 1929, Motor Engineers.

Carrick Watson, writing on PreWarCars.com, noted “This was the place to get your Vintage Bentley or Vauxhall 30-98 sorted out. It was run by Bert Niven , a real enthusiast who knew more than most about making proper cars go just that bit faster. Up till recently it was still run as a Garage by his Son, the inside was just as I remember it in the 1950’s, full of interesting items and also photographs on the walls alongside bits and pieces for cars that were long gone. Alloy Conrods for a 30-98 ? – certainly !! Real pits to get under the cars with sleeper covers, (back to my own apprenticeship days…) Gasket sets for cars that were just memories, It is my understanding that his Son when closing the business down offered the complete contents to Glasgow City Council for their New Motor Museum, but this was not taken up, such a pity.

Carrick Watson appears to have acquired the photos that hung on the wall of the garage, and a few are available on the PreWarCars website.

Listed Buildings in Strathbungo

What’s listed in Strathbungo?

Most, but not all, of the Victorian era sandstone buildings of Strathbungo are listed.

Scottish buildings are listed as:

Category A
Buildings of national or international importance, either architectural or historic; or fine, little-altered examples of some particular period, style or building type. (About 8% of total listed buildings.)

Category B
Buildings of regional or more than local importance; or major examples of some particular period, style or building type, which may have been altered. (About 50% of total listed buildings.)

Category C
Buildings of local importance; lesser examples of any period, style or building type, as originally constructed or moderately altered; and simple, traditional buildings that group well with other listed buildings. (About 42% of total listed buildings.)

The following map shows all listed structures in the Strathbungo area, along with the Conservation Area boundaries. Click on the coloured dots for information on any given structure. Note not all are buildings; there is the footbridge and even lampposts.

Historic Environment Scotland Listing Map

More info on listing can be found at Historic Environment Scotland.

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